Breaking! 50 Rhino Horns Worth An Estimated $12 Million Seized By Customs Officials In Malaysia

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Photo from Jabatan Perhilitan Semenanjung Malaysia, Facebook

Authorities announced today that customs officials in Malaysia seized a record 50 rhino horns worth an estimated $12 million at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which has become a key transit point in the smuggling of endangered animal parts.

The massive haul, which was discovered at the export branch of Pos Aviation in cardboard boxes on August 13th, was en route to Vietnam where a growing market exists based on the false belief that rhino horns have medicinal properties.

Officials also found a large number of animal bones which were believed to be from tigers and leopards.

According to a post on the Jabatan Perhilitan Semenanjung Malaysia Facebook page, the department seized the items after receiving information from the royal customs department connecting a suspicious and suspected consignment of wildlife parts.

Authorities are investigating after the initial report showed false information had been used in the shipping document.

The seizure of the confiscated rhino horns, which weighed 256 pounds, marked “the biggest ever in Malaysia’s history in terms of the number of horns and value,” Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, head of Malaysia’s wildlife department, told the AFP.

While authorities were not able to identify the origin of the animal parts, rhino horn sent to Asia primarily comes from endangered rhinos in Africa.

“This was a very unusual mix of wildlife parts found, rhino horns which were clearly not from Asia and carnivore carcasses which could have originated from the country,” TRAFFIC’s Acting Southeast Asia Director, Kanitha Krishnasamy, said in a statement. “The situation calls for a closer look into KLIA and all its operators including; agents, transportation, and logistics companies.”

Trade in rhino horn was banned globally in 1977 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This incident follows several high-profile rhino horn seizures in Southeast Asia in 2017 and earlier this year. It includes a case of 46 rhino horns seized at Vietnam’s Ha Noi’s Noi Bai International Airport in March 2017 that were smuggled in two suitcases on a flight from Kenya. A month later, Malaysian Customs seized 18 horns smuggled on a flight from Mozambique to Doha.

In February of this year, Singapore jailed a Vietnamese man for 15 months for attempting to smuggle eight pieces of cut horn and a bag of shavings. The man was flying from Dubai to Lao PDR via Singapore’s Changi Airport. Just last month, a Vietnamese man was stopped at Tan Son Nhat airport for illegally transporting 12 rhino horns from Angola.

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